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Thursday, July 21, 2011

7 Tools for Creating Mind Maps and Outlines Online

One of the presentations that I made this week was about having students create videos to demonstrate their knowledge of a topic. In that presentation one of the points that I stress is the need for students to create outlines of their videos before moving onto the technical aspects of constructing a video. Here are some tools for creating outlines and mind maps to plan video projects, podcasts, or essays.

Quicklyst is a nice tool for taking notes and creating outlines. Quicklyst provides a simple outline template that you can use to take notes. There are two neat features of Quicklyst that really stand out. First, you can do basic web searches within the framework of taking notes. To do a search just type a question mark (?) before a word then press enter. Quicklyst will then fill-in that line with some basic information about that word. For example, when I typed ?egypt that line on my outline was filled with some basic information about Egypt. The other useful feature offered by Quicklyst is the option to search within your notes. If you've created a lot of outlines in your Quicklyst account you can use the search function to quickly locate your notes about a particular topic.
Knowcase is a free tool for recording ideas and creating outlines. To get started using Knowcase just click create then start typing. Each time you press enter or return a new element of your outline is started. To rearrange the sequence of elements on your outline just drag them into a new order. Knowcase outlines can be made private or public. There are two public settings. A public setting that allows people to only view the outline and a setting that allows others to edit your outline.

Spider Scribe is an online mind map creation service. Spider Scribe can be used individually or be used collaboratively. I've reviewed a lot of mind mapping tools over the years. What jumps out about Spider Scribe is that users can add images, maps, calendars, text notes, and uploaded text files to their mind maps. Users can connect the elements on their mind maps or let them each stand on their own.

Folder Boy is a new service for recording, sharing, and organizing ideas with a team. At its most basic Folder Boy helps you organize your thoughts through an expandable outline format. You can create folders for each series of thoughts. Within each folder you can lists and sub-lists of typed thoughts.
Wise Mapping is a free collaborative mind mapping tool. Wise Mapping has fairly easy to use editing and sharing functions. Each cell created in a Wise Mapping mind map can be dragged and moved around in the mind map without losing any text or text formatting. Wise Mapping lets users collaborate on the creation of mind map. Mind maps made on Wise Mapping can be shared with others via email, url link, or be embedded into your blog or website.


Exploratree is a free graphic organizer creation tool. Exloratree users can use pre-made graphic organizer templates which Exploratree refers to as "thinking guides" or create their own templates. The Exploratree thinking guides can be used online or downloaded and printed for offline use. Thinking guides can be created collaboratively on Exploratree which makes Exploratree a good tool for students working in groups to design projects together.


Slatebox is a slick tool for collaboratively creating mind maps and organizational charts. Slatebox offers a variety of good-looking templates and intuitive tools for designing and editing mind maps and charts. Creating a mind map is a simple matter of selecting a template and using the visual editor to place text and images in boxes. Those boxes can be resized and rearranged using the drag and drop editor. If you need more text boxes, simply add more.